Since filming OVERLOAD: America’s Toxic Love Story, people ask me all the time what I use in the kitchen to bake, store and serve if I am trying to avoid exposures to nonstick surfaces and plastics.
Plastics have a variety of issues from single-use items polluting the planet to various chemicals leaching out of them as we load them with hot food, wash them in the dishwasher and reuse them and heat them in the microwave.
The problem with standard non-stick kitchenware is two-fold. With high levels of heat, the chemicals that give the non-stick its qualities (per- and polyfluorinated compounds) can leach into the food and surrounding air. Also, these compounds are also known as “forever chemicals” because they don’t easily degrade or leave our bodies and they bioaccumulate in our environment, continuing to pollute us, our drinking water, our soil and the food and animals we eat.
The kitchen is honestly one of the simplest areas to swap out for alternatives because very often these products come in starter sets and are very easy, and often inexpensive, to find and buy. You just need to know what to look for! The key to a cleaner, greener kitchen is glass, ceramic, silicone and stainless steel.
Below are some of my favorite things in the kitchen I use nearly every day
Anchor Glass Storage Starter Kit – One of the biggest transformations in my house has been the phasing out of kitchen plastics. They leach endocrine disrupting chemicals into hot foods – both when warm leftovers are loaded in and when they are heated back up. When I leave a restaurant, I ask for my leftovers to be put into foil so they aren’t in plastic or styrofoam and then I bring them home and pop them into glass. Great for reheating – and without the nasty chemmies!
Kleen Kanteen – On my first day of filming Overload, EWG gave me a Kleen Kanteen and it’s been with me every day since. I now have 4 of them in rotation and give them as presents often. Single wall bottles are great for room temp and the double wall keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks incredibly cold. Available in a ton of colors and caps. Kleen Kanteen too expensive for you? Find any stainless steel reusable bottle and begin making a positive impact on the earth and your body.
Silicone cooking utensils – These don’t scratch my cookware, toxins aren’t heating up and leaching out into the food I am cooking, they don’t melt if they touch a burner or get left on the side of a pan and they are easily cleaned in the dishwasher. There is really no reason to not opt for kitchen utensils made of silicone. You can swap these items out one at a time or get a great set and replace everything at once.
Pyrex baking dishes – You can pop any of the starter kit glass containers I mentioned above into the oven but sometimes you need a bigger dish. I use these for roasting meats and baking fish, meatloaf and desserts. You can find less expensive options than Pyrex, but since there have been reports of glass from China containing lead, I stick to made in the USA brands like Pyrex and Anchor.
Ceramic baking dishes – I have had my CorningWare ceramic baking dishes for over a decade now. I love that they come with the glass covers for when I cook and then lids for easy transport and storage. Easy to clean, no chemmies and they come in a variety of sizes.
LAST but not LEAST
Pots and Pans – Non-toxic cookware is a hot topic since so many alternatives have come out (like ceramic coating and “PFAS-free” non-stick) and, in reality, the safety of these options is debatable since many of these newer formulations either haven’t been tested for our safety or are direct relatives to the incredibly toxic PFAS. A few tried and true types of cookware get around the chemical exposure encountered in cookware and another offers a cleaner and greener, but still not perfect, non-stick option.
OG Ancestral Cast Iron Cookware – The iron this cookware adds to foods can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your personal iron levels. For many people who are deficient, the fact these add iron to food is incredibly helpful. Not suggested for deep frying, but after a good “seasoning” prior to using, these become relatively non-stick and easy to clean with simple detergent and hot water. You can make the switch for all your cookware by purchasing a comprehensive set like this or begin smaller and learn about the seasoning and cleaning process with a few pieces to start!
Stainless Steel – While not marketed as non-stick, as you get used to cooking on stainless, with a little oil you can definitely get this option to be “lower stick.” Dishwasher and oven safe and durable as can be – meaning they’re quite sustainable since you won’t be getting rid of these anytime soon due to scratching or surface wear and tear – the stainless steel option can get more expensive the less nickel and chromium they contain. Keep an eye out for some that are actually now nickel free. Here is a great starter set, a mid-range and a lifelong stainless set that will last you decades.
Ceramic – Somewhat non-stick, but as non-toxic as you can get (meaning manufactured without any chemicals and made of very durable materials) this pure ceramic option will last for a very long time if you treat it properly. There is no iron, nickel or other metals or coatings leaching into food and the fact they are 100% ceramic means they can go not only from the stovetop to the oven, but they can go in the microwave. Make sure to verify the 100% ceramic labeling to ensure you are not getting ceramic-coated metal or non-stick ceramic since the FDA does not regulate these claims. This option is the most expensive of all because of its safety and versatility but this is the cleanest and greenest option on the list! Right now options are scarce but this 8-in-1 is pretty and multi-functional.
Ceramic-coated – This is NOT as low tox as the options above, but they are affordable, easy to clean and definitely healthier than the PFAS-based non-stick I was rocking before. I have had mine for over 4 years now and, when used with silicone cooking utensils, they really last. Nothing sticks, they are easy to clean, and no PFAS in my food – that’s a definite winning combo for me, though I definitely plan to upgrade to all stainless in the near future! Try a skillet first or go with the mid-range set I have or this one I wish I got because it’s oven-safe too.
Want to check out more of my favorite lists? I’ve got them for my favorite baby toys, and personal care, and household cleaning products. This page is updated regularly because I discover new kitchen products all the time.